The CDC has extended its warning against all cruise travel for U.S. citizens. The CDC first warned against all cruise travel by raising cruises to Level 4: COVID-19 Very High-Risk on December 30, 2021.
However, the CDC has extended that warning—despite anger and frustration from the cruise industry.
The Cruise Lines International Trade group said: “Regrettably, upon initial review, the latest CDC guidance appears out of step with the actual public health conditions on cruise ships and unnecessary in light of societal trends away from more restrictive measures,”
“We are confounded by the CDC’s imposition of even more complex and unwarranted measures which ignore empirical evidence that the industry’s protocols have provided a greater level of COVID mitigation than most any other setting.”
“Against this backdrop, we continue to be dismayed by the CDC’s decision to maintain any Travel Health Notice for cruises,” they added.
In addition, the CDC announced cruise ships can set sail under three different vaccination tiers.
The CDC’s Cruise Guidance For U.S. Citizens
The CDC first raised cruise ships to a Level 4 warning on December 30, 2021, after Omicron cases continued to skyrocket. The CDC’s reporting system showed over 100 cruise ships had reported COVID-19 cases within a week’s time.
Today, 63 cruise ships remain above the threshold established by the CDC, with 27 below the threshold and 19 not reporting any recent COVID-19 cases.
The CDC says if people choose to travel on cruises they should:
- Wear masks on board
- Maintain levels of social distancing
- Test before and after their cruise
- Quarantine for 5 days after their cruise when they return home
The CDC said: “The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily between people in close quarters on board ships, and the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high, even if you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines,”
However, cruise liners are now easing restrictions on board despite concerns from the CDC. Norwegian has announced masks will not be mandatory onboard their cruise ships.
They stated, “We recognize the added protections provided when wearing a mask covering and recommend that all guests do so onboard when indoors, except when actively eating or drinking, or seated at a table in a dining setting, or when in their stateroom,”
“Mask coverings are also recommended outdoors when physical distancing of at least six feet cannot be maintained. The decision to wear a mask covering when onboard is at the discretion of each guest.”
The CDC’s New Vaccination Status Program
According to the CDC’s official website, cruises have until February 18 to opt-in or out of the optional vaccination program.
The CDC has added a new vaccination status given to cruise ships based on their levels of vaccination. The new options include:
- Not highly vaccinated
- Highly vaccinated
- Vaccination standard of excellence
To achieve the newest vaccination standard of excellence, the cruise ship must ensure 95% of the ship is fully vaccinated. Cruise lines must now show their level of vaccination on the CDC’s website alongside each vessel’s color status.
Passengers who come into close contact with anyone who’s tested positive for COVID-19 must quarantine for at least five days after their last exposure instead of ten days.
Other changes include cruise lines no longer requiring pre-approval from the CDC for screening and diagnostic tests. The CDC said they would no longer need cruises to show negative air pressure in cabins, etc.
The CDC said they would reevaluate the guidance based on public health conditions and scientific evidence by March 18.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories